THE ASSOCIATION of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have announced new guidance for Police Officers investigating allegations of criminal transmission of HIV.
The guidance provides officers with basic facts about HIV and sets out advice on how to deal with complaints about reckless or intentional transmission of HIV in a fair and sensitive manner.
The National Aids Trust (NAT) has been working with the ACPO and other groups including, Police Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Policing Improvement Agency: to help improve Police understanding of HIV/Aids and to reduce the number of these cases being brought to court.
Since the inclusion of reckless HIV transmission within the Offences Against the Person Act 1961: many HIV positive people have felt stigmatised and singled out by the law. The new guidance should prevent non-cases being pursued and put and end to reports of unnecessary police raids and peoples confidentiality being breached.
Deborah Jack, CEO of NAT, Said: “Criminal investigations into HIV transmission worry many people with HIV, even though they occur only very occasionally. We are pleased that we have been able to work together with the police to produce guidance for their officers. The Association of Chief Police Officers took the issue very seriously.
“The resulting guidance sets out a fair way to deal with these investigations that keeps in mind the particular sensitivities of HIV. This new guidance should serve to reduce the number of police investigations and reassure people living with HIV of what they can expect in the unlikely circumstance this occurs.”
Police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be expected to follow new guidance.
Ellie O’Connor, Detective Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Investigations into the criminal transmission of HIV are extremely rare but we know they cause a lot of anxiety for the individuals involved. It is important police officers have an understanding HIV and what to do should someone make a complaint.
“In producing this guidance we listened to the concerns of the HIV sector and worked in partnership with them. We strongly encourage all police forces to disseminate this guidance and ensure officers know to access it when a case occurs.”
Under the new guidelines for police investigating criminal transmission of HIV, people living with HIV can expect:
- For their confidentially to be respected.
- An investigation of reckless transmission only to be pursued if a complainant has been infected with HIV
- For the case to be continually discussed with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure only legitimate complaints are pursued.
- Contact with any other individuals relevant to the case to be initiated by trained staff at GUM clinics.
- Uninterrupted access to medication, in the event of being taken into custody.
If someone reported to the police that they had concerns they have been exposed to HIV in the past 72 hours they will be referred to an open sexual health clinic or the nearest hospital Accident and Emergency Department to ask for PEP.
According to Avert there have been around 150 criminal transmission of HIV around the world with at least 14 of those from the UK.